Well, you know: I do have a passion for final’s IEMs. First of all about their sound delivery, of course, but also about the technological effort they endure on their development, and share in good details with their customers. Is that a unique case, or maybe a tendency – a sort of “regional school” ? Is final’s attitude – and hopefully good result – common to other Japanese audio manufacturers?
Intrigued by the question I recently conceded myself a go at a couple of other Made-in-Japan models, one of which is what I’m talking about today.
Intime Acoustic, a.k.a. Ozeid Co., a.k.a O2aid.com…
Intime Acoustic is a brand owned by Ozeid Co., Ltd., a quite young (2016-founded) Takasaki City (JPN) based company. Its main business is actually not manufacturing, but consulting.
The owner and key developer mr Yoshiyuki Watanabe has 35+ years of experience on devices and applications that use piezoelectric materials.
Rotate his company name “ozeid” (or even better its web domain name “o2aid”) by 180°. What do you read ? 🙂
That said, mr Watanabe also decided to deliver some of his competence in form of earphones, targeting young users – young like his children – aiming to convey (in his own words) “the good sound of Japan“.
Well I’m more the age of mr Watanabe than of his children, but this all is anyhow more and more intriguing, isn’t it ?
The model I got is called “Sora 2”, quite evidently the second generation of the model previously released under the name of “Sora”.
Similarly to other models in Intime lineup, Sora 2 is based on a dual-driver system including a 10mm dynamic driver, and a somewhat special ceramic tweeter taking care of the upper treble / top octave end.
A number of very interesting details are available regarding the technology inside Sora 2, let me summarise what the main claims are.
1 – “Vertical Super Tweeter”
Adopted on Intime’s TOTL Ti3 model – VST is made of some sort of special laminated ceramics, instead of the most commonly adopted titanium oxide.
Fundamentally, laminated ceramics is supposed to offer more controllable vibrations.
Conventional “super tweeters” are so-called as they reproduce sounds outside the audible range, but this Intime’s variation, thanks to the uncommon material selection in addition to their calibrations, has a different behaviour and reproduces overtones, effectively contributing to the highest-end part of the audible spectrum.
2 – Graphene coating
A graphene coating has been applied to the Dynamic Driver unit, which – always according to Intime – improves mid-high range frequencies reproduction power and definition.
3 – Stainless steel housings
Stainless steel has been adopted for the housings. Besides obvious robustness, the choice reportedly offers a significant impact on sound.
In general, the more solid & heavy a material is used, the better is unwanted extra vibrations suppression obtained on the housings, but at the expense of equally unwanted extra weight.
On Sora 2 the adoption of stainless steel, the application of a heat treatment and a careful internal cavity shaping – according to Intime – turned into higher material rigidity, excellent vibration control, better sound transmission speed and – why not – scratch resistance too, all within a limited weight.
Well, weight is not feather-level in my books to be honest. I don’t have a subjective comfort problem with that, YMMV.
4 – HDSS
Another unique (patented, actually) technology adopted inside Sora 2, as much as inside Ti3 too, is called “HDSS” as in High Definition Sound Standard.
Its purpose is to suppress sound reflections inside the housing, resulting in cleaner output.
Some sound waves are commonly uncontrolledly reflected inside the housing, impacting onto the dynamic driver diaphragm, causing dissonance from the intended purpose. With HDSS technology, the sound inside the housings is more controlled and does not invest the diaphragm, allowing the dynamic driver to move only as a consequence to the signal source.
This – according to Intime – increases sound realism and decreases fatigue. It has a down side though: it tends to purge too much of the high frequencies off the dynamic driver vibration.
This is where a careful calibration between the resolution of the ceramic VST mentioned above and the mid-high range tuning of the graphene coated DD becomes vital, resulting in a bass with a solid outline, harmonious mid-high range and wide spatial expression – as in facts Sora 2 does deliver, big time !
|Sub-bass and mid bass quality.||Mids and especially male vocals could be more bodied.|
|Treble quality.||May require careful tip selection to avoid sibilance (especially to me, as always).|
|Very good technicalities.||Fixed cable (not a serious con for me)|
Full Device Card
Hiby R5 single ended / Apogee Groove + Fiio A5 – final E ML-size tips – Lossless 16/44.1 – 24/96 – 24/192 FLAC tracks.
|Tonality||Sora 2’s key identity is “clean energetic musicality”. The signature is a U whereon snappy, textured and detailed bass and highs compensate each other in presence most of the times (with an occasional bright-ish prevalence… sometime!), while each keeps setting the pace and the rythm to deliver a very engaging and cohesive musical experience. Yes, I like Sora 2 a lot.|
|Sub-Bass||Very nicely present, fast and detailed. A true pleasure. For my own taste, I’d have loved it even a further bit higher but I’m being subtle.|
|Mid Bass||Less eleveted than sub-bass yet very present, fast, punchy, detailed. I love that. Similarly to sub-bass, a tad more elevation – keeping the same speed features – and I would call it perfect.|
|Mids||Not recessed nor forward in terms of elevation, clear and detailed, they might feel “on second light” as they lack some body – especially the lower ones. Globally, I can say mids and vocals are good, even very good, but I wouldn’t choose Sora 2 a “vocal specialist”|
|Male Vocals||Present and well detailed but somewhat too lean for my tastes. Or maybe I’m pretending too much, difficult to say. Certainly, can’t expect cavernous male singers sounding like lions on Sora 2|
|Female Vocals||Better than males, a bit more forward and especially bodied, but still way south of flutey let alone buttery.|
|Highs||Energetic, clair, sparkly but never peaky, extended, somewhat airy, not overly sharp let alone zingy. Somewhat remembers planar treble. Depending on tracks it may come accross a bit more abundant than bass let alone mids, scanting the entire presentation temporarily into bright territory, but that’s it. Very well done – also considering the price we are talking about !|
|Soundstage||Resaonably extended although not huge. Seems taller than wider actually. Not bad at all anyhow.|
|Imaging||Better than the soundstage. Voices are corretly positioned on the space, ofter with good air amongst them. Thumbs up here too.|
|Details||Fast bass and snappy trebles offer a way above average amount of details, while always avoiding excesses. Cymbals & snare drums – which is what I listen to most often due to my jazz passion – get a special treat. Very nice.|
|Instrument separation||Separation and layering is very much above average for this price bracket.|
|Driveability||Benefits from moderate amping due to modest sensibility.|
|Build||Stainless steel, with heat treatement and nive mirror finish. Not lightweight (not overly heavy either)|
|Fit||Fat bullet shape, easy to fit for all apart who hates the genre of course. As it almost always happens to me I had to fiddle a lot to find tip allowing for the correct insertion calibration to avoid sibilance. I finally settled onto final E’s ML size (my size on those is M actually – ML in this case supports a shallower but equally firm insertion).|
|Comfort||Very subjective. I personally find them extremely comfortable, also in spite of their relatively heavy wight. YMMV.|
I also prefer wearing them cable up, which is facilitated by silicon earhooks. About those, well… nice try, but final’s type-B are miles better (and that’s what I adopted of course).
|Isolation||Bullet shape does not offer any concha shielding. Deeper insertion typically helps getter a stronger seal improving isolation from external noise too, but in my case I couldn’t opt for that to prevent sibilance. Some sound does also leaks out from the vent.|
|Cable||Sadly just fixed, non-braided, 4-core oxygen-free copper, single-ended 3.5mm. I’m not overly demanding on this aspect, I know quite a few will consider the lack of replaceability a serious annoyance, especially once considering the great sound quality.|
|Driver(s)||Φ10mm graphene-coated Dynamic Driver woofer + laminated ceramic Vertical Support Tweeter (VST)|
|Cable||Fixed, non-braided 1.2m 4-core oxygen-free copper, with single-ended 3.5mm angled termination|
|Package & accessories||1 set of 4 pairs (S, M-, M+, L) Acoustune ET07 eartips, 1 pair of silicon earhooks and a snap-button leather strap|
|MSRP at this post time||JPY 6.499 ($61.55)|
|||Intime Sora 2||final E3000||TIN T2+||Senfer DT6|
|Driver(s)||Φ10mm Graphene coated Dynamic Driver woofer + Laminated Ceramic Vertical Support Tweeter (VST)||Single Dynamic Driver||10mm NanoPure nickel-zinc alloy plated dynamic driver||1BA + 1DD + Ceramic Piezoelectric|
|Tonality||Clean energetic musicality. U-shaped signature whereon snappy, textured and detailed bass and highs compensate each other in presence (with an occasional bright-ish prevalence) to deliver a very engaging and cohesive musical experience.||Warm open-V shaped, mildly bass-centered. Personal timbre.||Warm tonality in an accurately balanced signature. Horizontal calibration / compensation of the various parts of the spectrum.||Warm L-shape, well balanced overall presentation|
|Bass||Very nicely present, fast and detailed sub-bass. Midbass is less eleveted than sub-bass yet very present, fast, punchy, detailed.||Clean, fast, rolledoff sub-bass. Less fast, mildly punchy, elevated midbass, quite invasive vs sub-bass and lower mids||Modestly rolled off sub-bass but still nicely present per se. Slow transients make low mid-bass “fat” and quite invasive on many tracks.||Extended, textured, not particularly fast sub-bass and present, punchy, fast, unbloated mid-bass. Very light bleeding on low mids.|
|Mids||Not recessed nor forward, clear and detailed, they might feel “on second light” as they lack some body – especially the lower ones. I wouldn’t choose Sora 2 a “vocal specialist”. Males are present and well detailed but somewhat too lean for my tastes. Females are a bit more forward and especially bodied, but still way south of flutey let alone buttery.||Full, not excessive, detailed but rounded. Great vocals||Overall a bit behind, quite nicely rendered with particular regards to the high-mids, both per se, and due to mid-bass relative veiling. Male vocals benefit from the general warm tonality, although not particularly textured. Female voices benefit from the adjacent treble section quality, lean although not thin, quite defined and pleasant. No shrilling nor squeaking.||Balanced warm clarity. Unrecessed, good, slightly veiled male vocals and good, forward, somewhat a tad lean females.|
|Highs||Energetic, clair, sparkly but never peaky, extended, somewhat airy, not overly sharp let alone zingy. Somewhat remembers planar treble. Depending on tracks it may come accross a bit more abundant than bass let alone mids, scanting the entire presentation temporarily into bright territory, but that’s it. Very well done – also considering the price we are talking about !||Average extension, relaxed, lightly airy. Efficiently counterbalances lows in a greatly calibrated ensemble.||Together with general balancing, the best part of the presentation. Opposite to bass, highs transients are on the fast side, air is quite present and we have good extension and an overall very pleasant rendition, with quite some vividness, yet always free from peaks and offensiveness.||Bright and sparkly, very fast, almost crispy, never harsh. Low trebles like snares are too lean at times.|
|Soundstage||Resaonably extended although not huge. Seems taller than wider actually.||Quite extended, wider than deeper||Above average but not more than that. More horizontal than deep anyhow.||Panoramic|
|Imaging||Better than the soundstage. Voices are corretly positioned on the space, ofter with good air amongst them. Thumbs up here too.||Precise and consistent||Quite precise, unlike soundstage this is above average on this price bracket||Very good, almost superb|
|Details||Fast bass and snappy trebles offer a way above average amount of details, while always avoiding excesses. Cymbals & snare drums get a special treat.||Quite good considering the overall warmth||Sub-average due to low mid-bass invasiveness||Quite a lot in the highs, and above average in the bass|
|Separation||Separation and layering is very much above average for this price bracket.||Quite good in all sections.||Identical notes as for “Details” apply: low mid-bass part of the tuning hides some of that.||Very good layering|
|Driveability||Benefits from moderate amping due to modest sensibility.||Light amping recommended||Relatively easy, can be driven with a battery-less DAC dongle.||A phone is OK|
|Fit & Comfort||Fat bullet shape, easy to fit. Tip rolling might be required. Comfort is very subjective as always with bullet shapes.||Extremely easy fit, subjective comfort||Tear-drop shape quite rightly sized and smooth-edged, fitting easily for most people. Nozzles are not long, stock tips may be inadequate. Once the right tips are selected, comfort is actually great.||Easy fit (cable down) and very good comfort|
|Other notes||Clean, refined, engaging, dynamic, cohesive sound in a well populated and resolved stage.||Warm, musical, almost lushy strong identity in a vast soundstage||Warm, refined, smooth, refinedly calibrated. Unengaging for some.||Spectacular soundstage and imaging, well balanced signature, great sound quality at a supercheap price|
|Economics||JPY 6.499 ($61.55)||$ 53,00||$147,50 |
(street price $59,00)